When I saw the headline for Tom Patterson's Guest Commentary on Feb 12, 2012 (Obama policies have stalled economic recovery) I thought I would at last learn what specific programs and policies that President Obama has instituted that so infuriate Republicans. Alas, all that Patterson provided was more of the same inflammatory generic rhetoric that has propelled Republican opposition for years. All we got was more "Saint Reagan good, Obama bad". There was not one fact provided or Obama policy identified that can be directly pointed as stalling an economic recovery. Instead, Patterson regurgitated the same old lines that seem to be repeated by all Republicans.
Patterson writes, "The wrong headed policies of this administration have needlessly prolonged the misery and plunged us deeply into debt to boot." You'd think Patterson would be able to point to one "wrong-headed" policy that caused this plunge, but no, he can't. Perhaps it was Obama's tax cuts for the middle class that did it,
Facts are facts, and, unless you are a Republican, hard to ignore. When Jimmy Carter left office in 1981 the national debt was $930 billion. When Reagan left office eight years later it was $2.6 trillion, and he had raised taxes, both income and social security massively. When Bill Clinton left office in 2001 the national debt was $5.6 trillion (and the annual budget was in its second year of a surplus), eight years later when George II finally departed the national debt was $10.7 trillion. Under Obama it has risen to $15 trillion, hardly the "doubling under Obama's watch" that Patterson proclaims. Wonder why he didn't point out the doubling under George II?
Patterson insists that tax policy has to be made more simply. True enough, but that has nothing to do with President Obama's policies. The tax code is written by Congress and the code's complexity is a direct result of special interest groups lobbying Congress for exemptions, deductions, and other tax breaks that result in a heavier burden on the middle class. Can Patterson identify one tax policy of Obama's that has stifled growth? Just one?
Patterson further proclaims that businesses should "operate in a stable, predictable environment." Oh really. How fanciful. Like the stable and predictable environment of the oil crisis of the 1970s, the incredible inflation of the Reagan years, the tax increases of the George I, the dot.com boom/bust, or the failed Republican fiscal policy of George II and the massive erosion of wealth caused by greedy Wall Street bankers. If the business environment was stable and predictable, who would need investors?
According to Patterson, lower tax rates for the wealthy will cure all that ails this country. Well, Mr. Patterson apparently has forgotten that tax rates have been low for the wealthy for over ten years and where are the jobs? Where is the economic growth? If lower tax rates were the cure, why do we still have economic problems. Reagan promised "trickle down" benefits. Really? Where are they? He said a "rising tide floats all boats." That is true, for sure, but as a result, nothing really changes because the disparities still exist, only at a higher level.
Patterson proclaims that based on "historical precedent" this recession should have ended. He fails to note that historical precedence has no relevance on an economic disaster of this magnitude. Over 8 million jobs, good paying, middle management jobs have disappeared, forever. Gone, vanished, went bye-bye. They will never return. Trillions of dollars of invested wealth were evaporated, that wealth will never return. People's lives and aspirations were altered forever. But he believes that lower taxes for the wealthy will make it all better again.
According to Patterson, Feds must "ease up on regulations," to improve the economy. Ignoring the fact that Obama has initiated a program to eliminate unnecessary regulations, which rules is Patterson referring to? Which specific regulations are stifling growth? Perhaps its a law the reduces mercury in our drinking water? Or one that eliminates cancer-causing pollutants from the air we breathe? Why doesn't he identify which specific Federal regulations are hampering economic growth and offer solutions? Why?
Patterson says entitlements must be reformed and cut. Why? Social Security and Medicare aren't the problem. People such as myself have paid into these funds for years so that seniors would reap the rewards for their sacrifices. Now that our Baby Boom generation is looking to get our money back, he wants to stop these programs? Simply by raising the maximum earnings on which Social Security and Medicare taxes are collected would solve any shortage problems. Why should investors pulling down more than $106,000 per year be given a break? It makes no sense. Instead, reduce defense spending. Why do we need massively expensive fighter jets pushed by the military-industrial complex? Who will we use them against? Why so many submarines? Is their a large enemy fleet coming after us? Why so many aircraft carriers? Who is our enemy we need these for? Defense spending could be reduced by a minimum of 10 percent and our country would still be secure.
Patterson predicts that someday this recession will be over and "we will be left with a nasty legacy: a smoldering pile of debt." That is true. But he fails to note that the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office recently reported that if the tax cuts of George II had not been implemented there would have been budget surpluses every year since 2001, and our debt at that time would have been paid off. Paid off! The United States of America would be free and clear of debt. Where is Patterson's criticism of these tax cuts that have plunged us into such massive debt? I guess they don't fit his angry personality.
Patterson wants Republicans returned to power, but returning control of the executive and legislative branches of Congress, backed by a Republican Supreme Court, in this election to the people that caused this mess will only return our country to the massive spending of 2001-2008 under George II and increase our debt. Remember co-president Cheney's announcement that "deficits don't matter." Our country cannot afford that type of thinking again.
Perhaps next time Mr. Patterson fires up his keyboard he can provide specific details to back up his opinions and not just repeat the same old message the Republicans have spewing since 1933. And he might want to do some more research as to why we have these problems today.
Edward F. Murphy